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Newsmagazine of the BC Teachers’ Federation


Vol. 25, No. 6 April 2013

Special Election Issue

A legacy that must change

In this issue A legacy that must change


By Glen Hansman

President’s message




Three Rs for this provincial election


The hubris on child and family poverty in BC


The leaders speak out


BC—the worst record in Canada


May 30, 1966, The Vancouver Sun carried a one-page feature that boldly proclaimed “Education taking new turns in a world of change: Emphasis for youth must be on how to think.” The article describes the computer as the pacesetter in what has become an “age of rapid technological and social change.” Anxiety about this rapid change is the rationale provided for much of what follows in the article. It is up to the education system to “prepare people to cope with the economic, social, and psychological problems mushrooming around them.”

Over 12 years of Liberal interference in bargaining


Better schools for BC



he conclusion is that BC must make a “complete break with traditional education and its rigid conception of organization, curriculum, timetabling, and teaching methods.” Education must now be “available at various times and institutions offering varied programs.” The standard school calendar and schedule are things of the past, and “[t]raditional emphasis on teaching facts must give way to stimulating thinking.” Why? Because in an era of where there is an “explosion of knowledge,” the curriculum must shift away from “teachers supplying students with factual knowledge to students discovering the knowledge for themselves.” This change in curriculum is mirrored by a swing away from “textbooks and teacher lectures to [the] use of a wide variety of communications media and teaching techniques.” The article itself is accompanied by a photograph depicting the new technological marvel in education—the overhead projector. Trades and technology programs are cited, as is the need for


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continuous education throughout a person’s lifetime given the likelihood that most working adults will need to be retrained several times. Printed on the same page (no coincidence, surely!) is a paid advertisement from what was then called the Department of Education, proudly proclaiming that “British Columbia leads in the improvement and expansion of educational opportunities?” The Socred Minister of Education Hon L.R. Peterson, is shown in a photograph above text that highlights the government’s record on education: “The facts speak for themselves: the educational level of British Columbia’s population is the highest in Canada and nowhere are the educational opportunities greater.” In fact, “Thirty-one percent of the total provincial revenue for this fiscal year will be devoted to further improvement and expansion in this important field of human betterment.” If much of the above language seems familiar, you’re not imagining things. Other than the 31% figure, much of what is proclaimed as bold, new, and necessary in the 1966 Vancouver Sun article is eerily similar to what is proclaimed as bold, new, and necessary in the BC Education Plan. The themes and anxious language are nearly identical. Some of the themes and language have been repackaged with newer monikers we’re all familiar with: personalization, personalized learning,

educational transformation, 21st Century Learning, etc. Some aren’t as new. The “flexibility and choice” mantra of the BC Liberal government has been at play since at least the Public Education Flexibility & Choice Act, rushed through by Christy Clark as minister of education in 2002 and declared unconstitutional by the BC Supreme Court in 2011. The phrase continues to be used by the ministry and is sprinkled throughout the BC Education Plan. Teachers’ experience has shown that “flexibility and choice” is simply code for cutting teaching jobs and services to kids, closing schools, and shifting more public funds to independent schools and other private interests. Corporate and business involvement in pushing for change in public education isn’t new either—but as others have pointed out in recent issues of Teacher newsmagazine, corporate and business involvement in BC’s education system perhaps hasn’t been quite as overt until recent times. Public education in BC is being offered up as something ripe for the picking for Pearson, Cisco, IBM, Apple, Dell, Microsoft, and others—not just those affiliated with the Global Education Leaders’ Program, Canadians for 21st Century Learning & Innovation, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Premier’s Technology Council. Yes, there have been several attempts at education change since the 1960s, and things certainly haven’t been at a standstill. BC teachers have weathered enough change to be extremely suspicious about education fads—and especially about government-led education change. The concessions brought by government to the provincial bargaining table in the last round were brought in the name of the BC Education Plan, and were clumsily written, had no funding or other resources to support them, would have had extremely negative effects on teachers’ work lives and professional practice. It appears that the reason why the concessions were brought to the table, and remained on the table so long, was not to solve any real issue in schools but rather for

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Legacy on page 3

Teacher Newsmsagazine Election Special 2013  

Newsmagazine of the BC Teachers' Federation

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